Horses produce stomach acid all day long, unlike humans, where stomach acid is only produced when we eat something. To neutralize the horse’s stomach acid, the horse needs to eat. The food stimulates saliva production and this saliva makes the stomach acid less acidic. This ensures that stomach ulcers are prevented. What many people do not know is that it is therefore better not to work with the horse on an empty stomach. We will explain further why this is the case in this blog!
Splashing stomach acid during labor
Horses are made to eat constantly, which is why they have a small stomach and stomach acid is continuously produced. The moment a horse has an empty stomach and you start training the horse, the stomach acid will start splashing in the stomach. As a result, the stomach acid also splashes against the vulnerable upper part of the stomach and there is a risk of irritation and even stomach ulcers.
Therefore, offer your horse some food in the form of roughage or a roughage substitute half an hour before training. Concentrated food passes the stomach too quickly, stimulates saliva production too little and is therefore not preferred.
Roughage is in the esophagus and stomach within a few minutes. We therefore recommend giving your horse a little roughage before or during saddling. The amount depends equally on the size of your horse or pony. It is best to estimate this yourself. But avoid overfeeding the horse. As soon as the horse eats, the digestion process starts, which requires a lot of energy. Most of the blood will then also go to the digestive system. The horse will then have less energy to train properly, plus a lot of extra heat is released during digestion which can cause the horse to perform less.
Tips to prevent stomach problems in horses
An empty stomach is not the only cause of stomach problems. We have therefore listed a number of tips to prevent stomach problems in horses.
- Provide sufficient roughage, well distributed throughout the day. Horses should not be left without food for more than 4 hours.
- First feed roughage and only then the concentrate. This slows down passage through the stomach
- Feed the horse roughage or, for example, alfalfa / grass mix before training
- Also, don’t overfeed the horse before training!